By Jay Stracke, Editorial Coordinator
For Andrew Barry, Senior Vice President of Marketing, US Business Development and Training for Wild Well Control, family ties to oil and gas run deep. His father was the Senior Western Regional Manager for Esso Petroleum, and his grandfather served as the company’s Production Manager for the Purfleet Refinery during World War II. When he questioned his two sons’ decisions to pursue a career in oil and gas, “They would tell me, ‘why would we do anything else? This industry has provided for our family for generations. So why wouldn’t we do it?’”
As a youth growing up just outside of London in the town of Bath in the ’60s and ’70s, Mr Barry always longed to travel to the US. So, in 1982, after completing his A levels, he moved to Houston to work for Camco Products and Services, a small oilfield service company that would later be acquired by Schlumberger.
He began working on offshore rigs as a field service technician, undergoing vigorous on-the-job training that he described as “baptism by fire.”
“It was such a large, exciting and diverse industry, and there was a real can-do attitude with everyone,” he said. “The first time I went offshore, there was this enormous rig standing in front of me, and they brought the man basket down… You’re supposed to jump on the back and hold on as they hoist you up onto the rig. I jumped in the middle of the basket… That was naiveté.”
After three years working rotations offshore and becoming a first-time father in the same period, Mr Barry decided to go back to school while working full-time. In 1985, he earned an Associate of Arts in Applied Science from Houston Community College.
By 1989, he had been promoted to Engineering Product Test Lab Manager for Camco, supervising lab employees and coordinating the general operations of the product test labs. In this role, Mr Barry also gained experience in the design and testing of new equipment, including the development of what would become Schlumberger’s coiled-tubing directional drilling assembly.
“That was an absolutely fascinating piece of my career, when you get to see something go from concept to reality,” he said.
During his time at Camco’s testing facilities, new opportunities began developing on the horizon. By 1995, Weatherford was establishing its own engineering test lab and – on the recommendation of a former colleague at Camco – recruited Mr Barry as R&D Test Lab Manager.
In this role, he coordinated the startup and development of the new test facility and the organic growth of new product development testing. As an offshoot from a new casing exit development, he transferred into the technical sales group and served as the primary liaison between Weatherford and Halliburton in an alliance to provide a comprehensive multilateral drilling product line.
He later moved into a global business development role, overseeing multinational oil and gas accounts. Coupled with his technical background and global experience, he was named Global RCD Product Line Manager in 2010, when he started overseeing a $120 million/year product line.
In 2014, Mr Barry joined Wild Well Control as Director of WellCONTAINED, wanting to get back to “a smaller company, where people truly make the difference.” In this role, his responsibilities included the development of sales and marketing strategies, as well as the coordination of plans for product line expansions and the facilitation of cross-company participation within projects.
Within five years, Wild Well had appointed Mr Barry to his current position, where he oversees the company’s marketing, training and US business development. During this time, he also became active with the IADC Drilling Engineers Committee.
Earlier this year, Mr Barry and his training team also supported IADC in addressing the challenge of delivering IADC WellSharp-accredited well control training amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines.
“Given the unprecedented impact to normal operations by COVID, there needed to be a solution to allow the industry to continue ensuring certification of our workers was upheld,” he said.
Recognizing this urgent need, IADC and a group of industry volunteers created a new solution – within the span of a few weeks – to deliver the same training modules as one would find in the classroom, along with proctoring protocols to protect the integrity of the certification.
The end result was WellSharp Live, a collaborative industry effort to provide a distance learning option for WellSharp Drilling and Well Servicing well control courses.
“Given that it is an IADC certification, it was critical IADC and its Well Control Committee enable the well control training industry to move online,” Mr Barry said. “For the industry, this was truly a game changer. By providing a mechanism through which operators and oil and gas industry professionals could still maintain the required well control certification, it has prevented a backlog of expired certifications, potential disruption to operations and support of oil and gas jobs.” DC